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Coronavirus Live Updates: Optional credit/no credit grading policy will remain

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Published March 13, 2020 Updated August 5, 2020


Illustration by Deborah Han

On this page, the Voice‘s news team will provide the latest information about COVID-19 as it pertains to Georgetown. This story is ongoing, and this post will be updated.

August 5: Grading policy from spring to remain in fall

The grading policy Georgetown implemented in the spring semester in response to classes moving online will remain through the fall, Provost Robert Groves announced in an email Aug. 5.

Under this policy, students can choose to either receive a letter grade in a class, or receive a classification of satisfactory (grades A through C), credit (C-, D+, D), or no credit (F). This decision can be made up until the last day of study days, which is an extension from spring when the decision had to be made on the last day of classes. The deadline to withdraw was also extended to the last day of study days.

August 4: Students respond to lower financial aid packages with anger

Much-anticipated financial aid packages began to be released by the university in the late afternoon of July 31.

As the evening progressed, it became evident a significant group of students was asked to pay more than they did the previous year, for many without any changes to their financial circumstances. Since then, students have called on the university to address the situation and increase aid to meet the needs students have expressed.

According to a press conference held by GUSA officials on Aug. 3, approximately 1,400 students have received their financial aid packages. Another 1,600 students, including freshmen, students living on campus, and RAs, have not yet received financial aid information. GUSA’s Financial Aid Package Survey reported that 14.5 percent of students saw a $1,000 to $5,000 difference between their 2019/2020 and their 2020/2021 offer, 19.4 percent saw a $5,000 to $10,000 difference, and 19 percent saw a $10,000 to $20,000 difference. A small number of students saw packages change by over $20,000.

Full story here.

August 3: All RA positions suspended

On July 31, residential assistants (RAs) received an email informing them all RA positions will be suspended until students can return to campus. RAs who will maintain eligibility can defer their positions to the following academic year, and all RAs can apply for on-campus housing along with freshmen.

A news commentary on the RA situation can be found here.

July 29: Virtual Fall 2020 semester announced

In an email to students on July 29, President John DeGioia announced that all Fall 2020 undergraduate courses will be conducted remotely due to a national increase in COVID-19 cases. 

According to the new plan, only students who have already been approved through the Housing Stability Application, students whose academic requirements can only be met on-campus, members of the incoming Class of 2024 with F-1 visas, and a limited number of Residential Assistants will be allowed to live on campus. 

First-year students will also be given the opportunity to apply for on-campus housing through the Housing Stability Application if continuing their studies at their permanent residence poses major barriers. 

Full story here.

July 22: Fall tuition reduced

For the fall semester, the roughly 5,500 Main Campus undergraduate students who are not invited back to campus will receive a 10 percent reduction in tuition charges. The email from Provost Robert Groves and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Geoffrey Chatas stated that the university made this decision “in recognition that undergraduate students who return to campus will have access to certain services that will be unavailable to off-campus students.” Students that have been invited to live on campus will be charged the previously announced tuition for Fall 2020, a 3.5 percent increase from the Fall 2019 rate.

The university also announced in the email that housing and dining charges will be reduced by 20 percent for the undergraduate students invited back to campus.

The university has yet to clarify exactly how these changes will impact students’ offers of financial aid for the semester. According to the Fall 2020 Tuition, Fees, Housing and Dining Charges FAQ on the university’s Revenue and Receivables website, the Office of Student Financial Services will revise financial aid offers to reflect the updated costs included in the “Cost of Attendance” that is used to calculate eligibility for financial aid programs.

Full story here.

July 16: Fall plans are criticized by students, administrators reveal more details

Following the release of Georgetown’s plans for Fall 2020, students expressed concerns the plans were not considering all students. Here are some major groups who spoke out.

  • Transfer students, who were not included in the group of first-years who would be automatically welcomed to campus, created and circulated a petition calling for their needs to be considered in the fall plan. Full story here.
  • Though international students no longer have to worry about their visas, as ICE rescinded its earlier announcement, many of them were not granted housing on campus.
  • For those who are not international, results of on-campus housing applications were announced, with only 150 of over 500 applicants receiving housing. Students in GUPride are pushing to get more applications approved, though most appeals have already been rejected. Full story here.

In a town hall on July 16, administrators revealed more information about the fall semester. Key points included a July 31 notification date for returning students’ long-awaited financial aid decisions, an extension of the amended COVID-19 Spring 2020 grading policy to the fall semester, and further details for fall student on-campus life. Full story here.

July 8: University expresses support for international students

Following an announcement from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement that international students who do not attend campuses offering on-campus classes will not be eligible to remain in the U.S., Georgetown announced they support their international students and will be attempting to ensure Georgetown offers options that allow students to stay in the country.

Georgetown will also be joining an amicus brief a collection of universities are filing to oppose the action in federal court, according to President John DeGioia’s July 8 email.

Dean Joel Hellman of the SFS echoed the email, and committed the SFS to offer hybrid courses to all international students in residence. A town hall on the issue will be held Friday at 9 EST.

July 6: Fall 2020 plans announced

The university will open campus in a very limited capacity this fall, with all classes offered online and some with an in-person option. Only about 2,000 students will be allowed to return to live on campus due to a need to reduce density on campus.

Georgetown announced its plans for the fall semester in a university-wide email on July 6, after over two months of meetings with student leaders and anticipation from the student body. The email provided information on academics, housing, and health policies, though more information will be provided in the coming weeks. No information was provided about changes in tuition or financial aid based on the new operating status.

According to the email, the university will operate on a hybrid model with most classes online and limited space on campus for students. The university will not utilize a rotational model or hotels, as had been previously considered. Depending on the situation on campus and D.C., more students—with a priority of seniors—may be allowed to come back throughout the semester. Plans will be reevaluated for the spring.

Groups prioritized for returning to campus include incoming freshmen, students whose home situations present challenges to learning at home, a limited number of students who need requirements to be met on campus to graduate, and some RAs. More information on the process to apply to live on campus will be available later in the week.

The full story can be found here.

June 20: D.C. will reopen further on Monday

Washington D.C. will begin Phase Two of reopening from the shutdown caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus on June 22, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on June 19.

Phase Two reopening comes after a 15-day decline in COVID-19 cases in the District and involves the gradual relaxing of regulations. Notable changes include an increase in the number of people who may gather at once from 10 to 50 people, the opening of non-essential retail businesses for indoor shopping, and the opening of restaurants for indoor dining.

The full story can be found here.

June 18: School of Continuing Studies to remain virtual through the fall

The SCS will offer all fall classes in an online format for the upcoming fall semester, according to an email sent by Dean Kelly Otter on June 18.

This decision is partly due to the nature of the SCS, which concentrates classes in the evening, making social distancing difficult to achieve. Additionally, many students have obligations off-campus.

In-person co-curricular activities may be able to resume in a limited setting, depending on regulations from the city and university.

“We are excited to welcome you back for the fall semester in a remote format with the same commitment to a standard of academic excellence that we have strived to uphold,” Otter wrote.

June 15: Georgetown cancels fall study abroad, graduate school announces hybrid semester

Georgetown has canceled all study abroad and exchange programs for the Fall 2020 semester, according to an email sent on June 15 by Provost Robert Groves. In a separate email, Georgetown’s graduate school announced all graduate students would be invited to attend classes in person.

The cancellation of university-sponsored international travel, including study abroad, applies to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students through the fall. Students who planned to study abroad will receive information shortly about their next steps.

Georgetown’s graduate school also announced in a separate email that students would be invited back to campus for the Fall 2020 semester while offering online classes for graduate students unable to return to campus. Faculty members are designing hybrid courses available for both in-person and virtual instruction.

The number of students allowed in a classroom may be capped and class times staggered to reduce on-campus traffic and ensure social distancing.

The full story can be found here.

June 10: Georgetown Law releases preliminary plans for in-person fall 2020 semester 

Georgetown Law plans to resume partial in-person learning for the fall 2020 semester. Students who are unable to return to campus or prefer to remain online may attend classes remotely.

After Thanksgiving, all classes will be taught virtually through the end of the semester and final examinations. Georgetown Law’s fall 2020 model also includes a shift to smaller class sizes for first-year law students studying full time. Most first-year classes will be capped at 40 students or less.

Plans for the fall semester are subject to change and will be updated following D.C.’s public health guidelines.

In an email to students, Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor wrote, “Our goal for the fall is to restore as much of the energy of our campus life as we are allowed.”

June 9: Georgetown commits to releasing fall plans in the coming weeks

Georgetown will send communications to students about academic and housing plans for the fall shortly, according to an email sent by University President John DeGioia today. Though the email does not provide any specific plans, it lays out the concerns the university has for the fall and says the semester could be anywhere on the “continuum from on-campus to fully-virtual.”

The scenarios the university is considering do not include a “normal” semester, but a decision on the balance of virtual and in-person learning has not yet been made. Research and clinical training will likely be conducted on campus, according to the email, and at least some employees will be asked to return to campus.

According to the email, all university plans must be approved by the city government. Colleges and universities will not be allowed to return to campus until the city enters Phase Two of its reopening plan.

For individuals on campus, Georgetown plans to implement a layered public health framework, including self-screenings, social distancing, testing, and isolation.

Main campus undergraduates can expect a full plan “in the coming weeks” according to the email, which acknowledged the challenge the high density of students on main campus presents.

May 29: D.C. begins to reopen, no changes for Georgetown

Washington, D.C.’s stay-at-home-order was lifted today, signaling a start to the ReOpen DC plan that was released on May 21.

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s order to begin Phase One of reopening, which was made public on May 27, allows limited opening of non-essential retail businesses and restaurants, in addition to repealing the stay-at-home order. This was the first relaxation of guidelines since the stay-at-home order was put in place on March 30, almost exactly two months ago. The public health emergency and public emergency declarations remain in place through July 24.

The same day Mayor Bowser announced the start of Phase One, Provost Robert Groves sent a university-wide email stating the start of reopening would not change regulations on campus. Employees continue to work from home, and masks are required for all those on campus. The university also said it would be working with the city government to determine what reopening will look like for Georgetown. According to the order, the city aims to have a plan for campuses in place by July 1. An update on the fall semester is expected in the coming weeks.

The full story can be found here.

May 24: Summer housing offered

Georgetown has offered free transition housing to students currently on campus through June 1, and will then allow students to stay on campus for a discounted rate through the remainder of the summer, according to a university spokesperson. The university expects a little over 100 students to remain on campus. Both graduated seniors and continuing students will be allowed to live in dorms for $1,500 through Aug. 8, when housing will transition to prepare for the fall semester, according to a May 4 email obtained by the Voice.

The university originally asked students to pay $3,850 to remain on campus for the summer, according to an April 30 email obtained by the Voice. That price was discounted to $1,500 on May 4 due to “serious concerns” expressed by students about inability to pay, according to a second email. Students can now opt to stay until July 4 at a cost of $750.

The full story can be found here.

May 21: Options for the fall discussed by administration

University administrators provided updates to GUSA leaders in a meeting on May 21. The administrators reported that housing selection for the fall will be postponed from its scheduled June 1 date. Additionally, the administrators expressed hope that a concrete decision on the status of the fall semester will be made by the end of June. 

While no specific policies were confirmed, administrators also revealed discussions they’ve had when it comes to shaping the fall semester. All policies implemented will follow public health guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, including introducing a contact tracing program, reducing the number of students on campus, and providing coronavirus testing. 

Based on American College Health Association recommendations, Georgetown has discussed limiting on-campus housing to one student per room. According to Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olsen, this limits the number of students living on campus at 2,900 students compared to the over 5,000 undergraduates who lived in Georgetown-owned or affiliated housing this past academic year. 

While there are no plans currently in place to determine which students will be able to return to campus, the administration is focused on prioritizing students with difficult family circumstances as well as incoming freshmen. 

Furthermore, any return in the fall will include drastic alterations to the classroom setting. In-person classes will likely be limited at 30% of traditional capacity to ensure social distancing, and technology upgrades will be required in classrooms to accommodate students who are unable to attend in person.  

In accordance with D.C. guidelines requiring all institution educations to file reopening plans, the University hopes to announce a concrete decision on the status of the fall semester by the end of June. 

Alice Gao contributed to this report.

May 18: Face coverings required on campus

All employees, students, and visitors on Georgetown’s D.C. campuses will be required to wear face coverings until further notice, Provost Robert Groves announced in a university-wide email on May 18. This new ruling, according to the email, is in accordance with D.C.’s May 13 extension of the public health emergency that requires face coverings for all individuals in business operations where social distancing cannot be adhered to.

On-campus, individuals will be required to wear masks or other face coverings unless they are alone in a room with a closed door or in a private vehicle. This includes buildings, grounds, residence spaces, and GUTS buses. Children under two are exempted. Any person not following the guidelines can be asked to leave, and employees and students could be subject to disciplinary action.

Those who cannot wear a face mask and wish to seek a disability-related accommodation can request one from the Academic Resource Center. Those who wish to seek an accommodation due to their inclusion in a protected category can do so through the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action.

May 15: Mayor Bowser extends D.C. lockdown, charts path to reopening

On May 13, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced D.C.’s stay-at-home order and public health emergency have both been extended through June 8. The decision is part of a plan headed by the advisory group ReOpen D.C. to gradually reopen the city.

“The continued sacrifices by residents and businesses are saving lives and helping us get to the other side of this incredibly difficult time for our city,” Bowser said. “Together, by staying home a little longer, soon we will be able to reopen D.C.; safely and sustainably.”

ReOpen D.C. was introduced by Bowser on April 23, when she first announced the city’s plans to begin a phased reopening. The group emphasizes four central values in evaluating how to best reopen D.C.: health, opportunity, prosperity, and equity. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reopen our city in a way that builds a more equitable D.C. and we should not let this opportunity pass us by,” she said.

The full story can be found here.

May 12: Graduate students call for expanded university response

Georgetown graduate students, along with faculty and alumni, have signed on to an open letter calling on the university for an adequate response to aid graduate students who are in dire need. The letter includes written statements from Master’s and Ph.D. students about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their ability to pay for healthcare, afford rent, and find employment over the summer.

In particular, many international students, who are prohibited from working off-campus and cannot return home, wrote about their difficult and uncertain situations. Graduate students have argued that the university’s Graduate Student Covid Relief Fund, which is valued at $35,000 and gives selected applicants a maximum of $500, is inadequate. The letter calls for an expanded relief fund for graduate students who have lost summer jobs, increased on-campus employment opportunities, an extended year of funding for Ph.D. students on service stipends, and greater graduate student input in the decision-making process.

May 10: Students ask for updates, inclusion on decision to reopen campus

GUSA asked student leaders be informed of and included in conversations about whether Georgetown will begin classes in person in the fall in a letter sent to university administrators and posted on their social media on May 10. The letter requests that all potential plans for the fall semester be shared with student leaders or the student body as a whole for input. The letter also stresses the potential impacts a continuation in virtual learning could have on marginalized students, arguing it is crucial for students to have as much information as possible ahead of a decision.

GUSA asked for the university to respond with outlines of any potential plans for the fall semester by May 15th at 5 p.m.

May 8: Georgetown to distribute CARES Act funding

Georgetown will be accepting the just over 6 million in funding it was eligible for as part of the CARES act and distributing half of it to students, the university announced on May 8. Undergraduate students with an expected family contribution below $15,000 each year will receive a grant of $2,600. An additional $300,000 of the money has been set aside to aid graduate students. The university hopes to distribute the money by May 15.

The full story can be found here.

May 5: Community cases hits 47, class of 2020 to be honored

As of May 4, 47 members of the Georgetown community have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to Georgetown’s daily coronavirus update. There remain no active cases on Georgetown’s campus.

University President John DeGioia announced in an email that the Georgetown community will come together virtually on May 16 to recognize the class of 2020. This will largely not be taking the place of a commencement ceremony, which has been postponed to a later date for most schools. The School of Medicine will be having a virtual commencement on May 17 due to “the nature of their roles and responsibilities over the coming year,” according to the email.

In conjuction with a virtual event, DeGioia added that a website will be launched on May 11 to include multimedia presentations celebrating the class of 2020.

April 13: Study abroad programs beginning before August 1 suspended

The Office of Global Education has suspended all study abroad programs beginning before Aug. 1, per an email from Craig Rinker, director of global education. According the email, Georgetown senior leadership intends to make a final decision on all fall study abroad programs by Friday, May 29. All students impacted by this decision are able to apply to another fall study abroad program beginning after Aug. 1 or push their study abroad until the spring semester or further. For any student who will now be on campus in the Fall, they should participate in registration and the housing selection process.

April 6: Georgetown community cases reach 30; financial and accesibility resources announced

According to Georgetown’s daily coronavirus update, 30 members of the university community are confirmed to be diagnosed with COVID-19 as of April 6. These cases are self-communicated to the university.

Additionally, the university has made several announcements in recent days. Georgetown is providing parking spaces to MedStar Georgetown employees, and discounted hotel rooms and on-campus apartments to residents and fellows who have challenging home accommodations. According to Provost Robert Groves, this comes out to 175 undergraduate students and 110 law students who have been approved to stay on campus due to extenuating circumstances.

The Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) are continuing to provide virtual services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CAPS is waiving all fee-for-service charges.   The university has also suspended all financial penalties and collection actions with respect to the spring 2020 semester, according to David Green, Georgetown chief financial officer. The university will not be forgiving unpaid charges, Green wrote in the announcement.

According to Randy Bass, vice provost for education, the university has also updated accessibility resources in recent days. “Over the past two weeks, a collaboration of students from Georgetown Disability Alliance, staff from the Academic Resource Center, Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, University Information Services and the Office of Equity and Inclusion have worked together to identify the most pressing accessibility problems emerging in our virtual learning environments and gather a set of resources to respond to them,” Bass wrote in the update. These resources are currently available to faculty and will be rolled out to students on Canvas next week.

April 2: University announces revised grading system for the spring semester

Students will have the option to take their classes for a letter grade or a grading category (satisfactory, credit, or no credit) this semester, Provost Robert Groves announced in an email on April 2. This policy differs from the previous one in place by creating the category of credit, which students who earn a C-, D+ or D in a class could opt-in to.

This change follows pushes by students for a double-a grading system, a proposal for which was denied by the Council of Deans. The email said this announced policy was “the final decision on the grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester.”

Students who choose to not display a letter grade on their transcript will receive an S/CR/NC accompanied by a notation explaining the grading system. The new system can be used in any class, including major and minor requirements. Students can elect to opt-in to the non-letter grade framework from April 6 until the last day of classes.

March 27: Summer classes moved online

All Georgetown summer classes will be conducted virtually, according to a university-wide email from Provost Robert Groves. The university is still working to determine whether camps and summer programs that occur on Georgetown’s campus will move forward.

March 25: Summer study abroad programs canceled

Georgetown summer study abroad programs have been suspended, according to an email sent to all program participants by the Office of Global Education. Alternative academic activities for students who were to participate in summer study abroad programs would be provided, and application fees would be refunded, according to the email.

The email also signaled an upcoming announcement regarding all university-sponsored summer programs. This is part of a university-wide decision to suspend university-sponsored programs and activities requiring in-person presence and travel during the summer term, a formal announcement of which is forthcoming from the Office of the Provost,” it read.

March 24: Georgetown community cases reach 14

According to the university’s daily digest, 14 total cases of COVID-19 in the Georgetown community have been reported. These cases were self-reported by the community member. This number includes two faculty members, three students that had been studying abroad, and nine students who had been on main campus between March 6 and March 16.

March 21: Georgetown staff member tests positive for COVID-19

A Georgetown staff member who was most recently on campus on March 16 has tested positive for COVID-19, per an university-wide email from Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins. The individual is at their permanent residence and in good condition. Those who may have been in contact have been notified by the university.

March 20: Georgetown student on campus this semester tests positive for COVID-19

In an email to the Georgetown community, Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins announced that a student who was living on campus tested positive for COVID-19 after falling ill on March 15. The student, who lives in a single, has not been on campus since March 12. Further confirmed cases will be posted on the Covid-19 Resource Center.

The student’s parents, before they learned of the test results, were on campus March 19. According to WinklerPrins, they had limited contact with anyone on campus, and all relevant areas are being disinfected.

In the same email, the university announced they would be closing Leavey Center and the Healey Family Student Center at 9 p.m. tonight. Lauinger Library is proposing to reduce access to the building.

March 19: Georgetown teacher tests positive for COVID-19

In an email to the Georgetown community, Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins announced that a Georgetown individual who was last on campus on March 2 has tested positive for coronavirus. The patient, who teaches on the main campus, experienced symptoms after the school’s transition to online courses, and is currently being treated at their permanent residence. According to the email, the Montegomery County Department of Health and Human Services is working to identify and contact anyone at risk due to exposure to the individual.

WinklerPrins wrote that the school anticipates more cases of COVID-19 amongst Georgetown community members in the coming weeks. The university is also sending out a daily coronavirus email update with all the most up-to-date news from the school.

March 18: University to delay commencement until safe to hold in person 

Commencement ceremonies for the class of 2020 will be postponed until they can safely be held on campus, the university announced in an email on March 18. The email stated that they would continue to update students and families on the new details of the event, giving them time to prepare for the ceremony before it is held.

“Commencement provides all of us with a way to gather to recognize the achievements of our students and their contributions to the life of our community,” the email read.

This announcement followed the circulation of two petitions urging for the delay, both of which have over 1000 signatures at the time of publication.

March 17: University asks students to move out by March 22, petition circulates to delay commencement

Students should move out by March 22 to avoid disruptions to their move-out plans, according to an email sent March 17 by Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Geoff Chatas and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson. Students who can move out earlier should do so, according to the email. This change to move-out, which was supposed to end on March 29 is due to changing federal and state regulations in light of the designation of the virus as a pandemic.

Students who have been approved to remain on campus will be notified by March 20. 1400 students applied to stay.

If students cannot get their belongings before the 22nd,  the university will store their belongings until August move-in through a storage partner. The email did not say whether the university would pay for the storage.

All on-campus dining locations will switch to to-go only options to comply with the new D.C. guidance prohibiting dine-in establishment.

Two petitions have begun circulating in support of postponing the commencement ceremony for the class of 2020, rather than canceling it or holding it virtually. The petition for seniors and parents currently has 493 signatures. The school-wide one has 443.

March 16: Administrators promise continued Federal Work-Study, salaries for on-campus workers

University administrators committed to continue paying students federal work-study  for the rest of the semester in a March 16 call with students, including GUSA President Nico Ferretti (SFS ’21) and Vice-president Bryce Badger (MSB ’21). Students may be asked to work remotely, but all will receive payment regardless of whether that is possible for their job.

On-campus workers, including student workers, will continue to be paid and non-student employees will retain their jobs, according to Badger and Ferretti, and administrators promised to prioritize the health of those workers that remain on campus.

The university also informed the students on the call that around 3400 students have already moved out and 1400 have requested to remain on campus.

Move out refunds will be issued for the period beginning March 16 through the rest of the semester. They will be released once the exact amounts are figured out for each financial aid package, according to Badger.

This post has been updated to reflect that on-campus student workers will continue to be paid. 

March 15: University to close Yates, offer move-out resources

In a March 15 email, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Geoff Chatas announced Yates Field House will be closed beginning March 16 until further notice.

The email also outlined measures the university would be taking in the next two weeks to aid the move-out process. This includes offering meals free of charge at Leo’s to students and family, free parking in university garages, and a limited number of boxes and packing materials in LXR Lounge/Multi-Purpose Room; McCarthy Hall; McShain Lounge; and the Arrupe Hall Multi-Purpose Room.

Chatas also wrote that Campus Ministry, CAPS, and the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program would continue to operate as resources.

March 15: Georgetown student diagnosed with COVID-19 was studying abroad in Copenhagen 

According to an email obtained by the Voice, the student diagnosed with coronavirus was studying abroad in the DIS Copenhagen program. University Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins sent the email to inform other students in the Copenhagen program of the patient’s diagnosis. He also advised that students returning from the program follow Center for Disease Control guidelines on self-quarantining and monitoring potential symptoms.

March 15: Georgetown community member diagnosed with COVID-19

In a March 15 email, Georgetown Chief Public Health Officer Vince WinklerPrins announced that a Georgetown student has been diagnosed with coronavirus. The student has been studying abroad and has not been on campus this semester, and is currently at their permanent residence receiving treatment.

According to the email, the patient’s program traced their contact with other Georgetown community members and determined that no other members of the study abroad program require testing. The university will contact all other students in the program to notify them of the diagnosis.

The email also promised to continue to update the school’s COVID-19 Resource Center, and looked to the future as the virus continues to spread.

“In line with the national trajectory, we anticipate there will be other members of the Georgetown community who are diagnosed with COVID-19 in the days ahead,” WinklerPrins wrote.

March 14: GERMS to remain out of service indefinitely

In a statement, Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS) announced that the group will remain out of service indefinitely. In the statement, GERMS wrote that it would be challenging to continue operations without undergraduate staff members on campus. The notice advised students with flu-like symptoms to follow Center for Disease Control guidance, and to contact 911 in case of a medical emergency.

March 14: University announces new measures to ease student transition to online courses

In an email to the student body on March 14, University Provost Robert Groves announced new plans intended to “increase flexibility for students and support the learning environment.” The email outlined three measures intended to aide the transition to virtual courses.

Georgetown will offer all undergraduate students the option to take their classes pass/fail for the rest of the semester. Students must choose the pass/fail option before the last day of classes, and a formal policy will be published soon.

The school will also extend the withdrawal deadline to the last day of classes, giving students more time to choose whether to continue with courses. The previous deadline was April 14.

Finally, Groves announced guidelines his office will give to faculty as students adjust, including offering excused absences for those who miss class through March 30 for issues related to housing or technological transistions, postponing tests and assignments planned for the week of March 16-20, and recognizing issues with Internet access and time zone alterations.

Groves also acknowledged challenges in the abrupt transition in housing and learning plans. He wrote that beginning virtual classes by March 16 would allow the semester to finish as scheduled.

“Let us give each other the gift of assuming good will in a difficult situation,” the email read. “We will be patient, we will be flexible, and we will never forget to listen to each other in the spirit of Georgetown: cura personalis.”

March 14: Student response team sends letter to the university demanding an extended spring break, petitions circulate

A newly formed student group called the Student Advocates for COVID-19 Response sent a letter to University President John DeGioia via email late on March 13. The letter asks that spring break is extended until March 29, the last day to move out, to give students time to gather belongings without worrying about academics. The group, which has more than 500 members in their group chat, also asked the university to provide subsidized short-term storage options, emergency financing, and travel grants, and to provide moving services for high-risk students.

Their last demand was that the university is entirely transparent in all future communications. “Student Advocates for COVID-19 Response is asking for Georgetown University to reassert its commitment to the student body by being decisive, considerate, and proactive in its decision-making process while moving forward,” the letter read.

The response team expects a response by Sunday.

Students have also created two change.org petitions regarding the university response. The first, advocating for students to opt in to taking class pass/fail this semester, has over 2200 signature at the time of publication. The other, asking for spring break to be extended until March 23, has 920.

March 13: The Corp to offer storage for remainder of the spring semester

The Corp will offer pop-up storage for the spring 2020 semester, with orders beginning on March 13. All items will be stored until the beginning of the fall semester, and unavailable for pickup until the end of the summer. Students can drop off items through March 29 from 1o am to 6 pm in the Arrupe Multipurpose room, the LXR lounge, and the McShain Large Multipurpose room.

Though the Corp’s storage will not be free, U-Haul announced on March 12 that they will provide free storage to college students suddenly forced to move amidst the crisis.

March 13: University announces online classes for remainder of semester, move-out plans

In a university-wide email, University President John DeGioia announced that Georgetown will continue to conduct courses online through the remainder of the spring semester, including final exams. Students will receive information about move-out procedures in the coming days, with the process slated to end by March 29. DeGioia cited increasing transmission of the disease and concern over community spread as factors in the university’s decision.

The email also promised plans to prorate room and board for students moving out of their residence halls, ensuring that they are not charged for the days they are not utilizing housing or meal plans. Students will be allowed to apply to remain on campus, though they may not be allowed to stay in their current residence.

The email also urged undergraduates who live off-campus to return to their permanent residences. Plans for commencement remain under review.

What we know so far: 

  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on March 10, a move that allows her to more easily request federal disaster funding, implement quarantines, and prevent price gouging. More than two dozen cases have been confirmed in D.C., and at least one patient is being treated at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH).
  • On March 11, Georgetown announced that the school will move to virtual courses, which will be administered until further notice. Students were strongly encouraged to return to their permanent addresses, though the campus planned to remain open.
  • The Department of Performing Arts announced that all productions for the remainder of the semester have been cancelled on March 12.
  • Spring sporting events and practices are cancelled for the remainder of the season, according to a March 13 email.

Annemarie Cuccia, Roman Peregrino, and Katherine Randolph contributed to this report



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